30 to 40% more employees in long-term sick leave

The number of employees out of work due to long-term, work-related illnesses or mental problems such as a burn-out, has increased by 30 to 40 percent in just 5 years' time. The figures revealed by the Health Department relate to those staying absent from work for at least a year.

Long-term sick leave climbed by almost 8 percent in 2015. The rise is most outspoken in the category relating to physical woes like back pain and muscle pain, but also in the category of mental problems, mainly depression and burn-out.

Elke Vanhoof, a clinic psychologist working at the Free Brussels University (VUB), says that "at an individual level, we don't allow enough recovery time. We come home from work and continue on our tablet or smartphone, but this has an impact on our brain and productivity."

Employees are also partly responsible: "We are not well prepared to our new way of working. Work pressure is rising." Making mistakes at work is less accepted in society.

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